Quantifying perceived landscape desirability in human settlements: the case of four communities in Cape Coast, Ghana
Through their natural, aesthetic and cultural attributes, landscapes serve a range of human needs. The perception and value placed on these attributes and services confer desirability on a given landscape. Landscape desirability refers to the extent of acceptability or preferability of the perceived state and functioning of a given landscape in relation to serving the landscape needs of its human inhabitants. This paper presents the idea of, and an approach for quantifying landscape desirability using four communities in Cape Coast, Ghana. A landscape desirability index was derived from four factors (attractivity, wellbeing, dignity, and eco-resilience) based on scores assigned by respondents to three sub-components of each of the four factors. The results show that all the communities scored their landscapes moderately on attractivity, wellbeing, dignity, and eco-resilience, as well as overall landscape desirability. Bare surfaces and contribution to flood and erosion mitigation were a major consideration in respondents’ scores of the sub-components of the factors. Nature and beauty (sub-components of attractivity) and sub-components of eco-resilience contributed considerably to the low desirability indices for the communities. This suggests the need to focus on these components in efforts to enhance landscape desirability. The findings suggest a need for wider studies to capture residents’ perceptions of their landscapes as an input into participatory landscape planning, transformation and management in Ghana. The quantitative approach applied can easily be adapted and replicated across communities and spatial scales to provide a comparable basis for sustainable landscape transformation in human settlements.